AIRPORT MUST COME OUT! – to win the struggle say Gate Gourmet workers

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Labour  MP JOHN McDONNELL addressing locked out Gate Gourmet workers calls for both the TUC and the TGWU to take action to win the dispute
Labour MP JOHN McDONNELL addressing locked out Gate Gourmet workers calls for both the TUC and the TGWU to take action to win the dispute

‘TELL the BA workers and every worker on the airport, we need their help again,’ Gate Gourmet striker Mrs P Samara told News Line on the mass picket at Heathrow yesterday.

The 670 strikers are united in their determination to defeat the company which sacked them at ‘three minutes’ notice’ on Wednesday August 10.

Furious TGWU members told News Line that they would not allow the company, with the aid of TGWU civil aviation leader Brendan Gold and TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, to divide them.

An ‘agreed framework’ document under which they would sell their jobs was signed by Barber, Gold and Gate Gourmet, and workers have been urged to sign letters accepting their dismissal in return for ‘compensation’.

Mrs Samara continued: ‘We are united for reinstatement.

‘Nobody wants the compensation money but we need action again to win.’

Fellow picket Mr A Mohammed said on Saturday: ‘We received P45s today, as if we were unemployed.

‘But we are not unemployed. Our jobs are in there,’ he said pointing to the Gate Gourmet site.

‘This is just another trick. We are all depending on the union, but the union leaders are not doing enough.

‘They have given the company another week to try to divide us up.

‘So now our shop stewards must take the lead.

‘Every other worker on the airport knows that if Gate Gourmet wins, they will be next.

‘It will happen to the BA staff and others.

‘We need more action to win.

‘Our shop stewards must ask the other shop stewards on the airport to help us.

‘We need them to take action for us again.

‘Then we will win.’

Baldev Sandhu, TGWU health and safety rep at Gate Gourmet, told News Line: ‘If the company gets away with this, every worker on the airport will suffer the same fate.

‘We must maintain our unity and show our solidarity with every worker on the airport. They want us to win and we need their help again.’

Mrs S Gill said: ‘We don’t want the money, we want our jobs.

‘Our union leaders are making a big mistake giving the company more time. They should be firm.

‘We need action from other workers on the airport. What happens to us will happen to them. The other bosses will follow what Gate Gourmet did. Other workers want to take action for us to win.

‘The company sent us P45s which they shouldn’t have done. They think they can cut the string and they are free. No they are not free.

‘They are in trouble. We will win, we have to. This dispute is very important.’

• Second news story

RMT SOUTHEAST TRAINS STRIKE BALLOT

MEMBERS of Britain’s biggest rail union at South Eastern Trains are to be balloted for strike action after the company failed to provide assurances that jobs, pensions and working conditions will not be adversely affected by the re-privatisation of the franchise.

The RMT stated yesterday that preparations to re-privatise the Integrated Kent Franchise have continued despite the huge improvements made since it was brought back into public ownership and overwhelming support for it to remain in public hands.

‘We asked South Eastern Trains to insert clauses into our members’ contracts ensuring that there would be no compulsory redundancies or worsening of pensions or conditions, and that existing promotion and transfer arrangements would remain in place,’ RMT general secretary Bob Crow said.

‘We made it quite clear to SET that failure to agree to do so by the end of August would result in a dispute existing between us, and the RMT executive has now set in motion a ballot for strike action among our more than 1,350 members.

‘The last time the franchise was handed to the private sector, staffing levels were pared to the bone, our conditions came under attack and staff morale hit rock bottom, while services deteriorated alarmingly and public confidence evaporated.

‘After Connex was thrown off the franchise and it came home to the public sector, much progress was made in restoring staffing levels, improving services and punctuality, boosting staff morale and stopping the massive haemorrhage of public money.

‘But in the run-up to re-privatisation the company is already trying to throw the whole process back into reverse by reducing station-staff numbers.

‘Our members’ fears are founded on a bellyful of experience of privateers seeking to maximise profits by cutting staff, undermining decent pension schemes and squeezing pay and working conditions while pocketing massive subsidies.

‘Like most rail users, we would far rather SET remained in the public sector, but if the government insists on going ahead with this ideologically driven re-privatisation we have every right to demand that our members’ jobs, pensions and working conditions are protected,’ Bob Crow said.